All that newfound adrenaline the Lakers feel sneaking into the playoffs could wear off as quickly the San Antonio Spurs will send Dwight Howard to the free-throw line.
So say Las Vegas oddsmakers who have remained skeptical all season about the Lakers’ championship aspirations.
RJ Bell, of Pregame.com, tabs the Miami Heat as championship favorites (5-to-8 odds) ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder (5-to-1), San Antonio Spurs (12-to-1), New York Knicks (16-to-1), Clippers (25-to-1) and Lakers (75-to-1). Only four other playoff teams have worse fortunes, including the Golden State Warriors (100-to-1), Houston Rockets (100-to-1), Atlanta Hawks (250-to-1) and Milwaukee Bucks (500-to-1).
Even worse, Bell tabbed the Lakers as having only a 12% chance of beating the Spurs when they meet in the first round, beginning Game 1 Sunday in San Antonio. So much for that relief that the Lakers earned the seventh seed and avoided the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“My sense and guess was the Thunder would’ve been a slightly bigger favorite,” Bell said in a phone interview with this newspaper. “The whole season is one thing and then there’s no Kobe Bryant. So the odds are the odds.”
Bryant’s season-ending torn left Achilles’ tendon and the Lakers’ season-wide inconsistency has overshadowed the team’s 28-12 mark in the past 40 games in the eyes of various oddsmakers.
Gambling website Bovada offers a similar order in their championship pecking order, including Miami (2/3), Oklahoma City (17/4), San Antonio (10/1), New York (16/1), Denver (25/1), Indiana (25/1), Clippers (25/1), Lakers (40/1) and Memphis (40/1). GM Mirage’s race and sports director Jay Rood also pens the Lakers at 40/1 odds behind the Heat (2/3), Thunder (5/2), Spurs (5/1), Nuggets (10/1), Knicks (12/1) and Clippers (12/1). Rood also favors the Lakers losing in the first round by wagering the Spurs at $8.50 and the Lakers at +$5.50.
The scary part: Rood said the odds would worsen if he didn’t have so many optimistic Lakers fans placing bets.
“Even though they had an up-and-down offseason, we drawn money to them,” said Rood, who attributes that Los Angeles’ proximity to Las Vegas and the Lakers’ popularity. “The right price for them to win a championships is 80-1 or 90-1. I don’t want to draw any more action since they’re our single biggest loser on the board. I’m trying to price it to give an honest price and don’t want to draw any money to them. If the Lakers get into the playoffs, people believe anything can happen. There will be people who jump on that.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org